Listen up folks! It's time for conversations, relationships, Twitter chats, and Facebook parties. Social media is one big relationship! You must tweet, post, like and talk all day. As long as you're talkin' you're being social. Since you're so social, you'll do great in social media as long as you keep making friends, chattin' and raising your Klout score doing such.

Seriously folks, are you drinking too much of the social conversation Kool-aid? Do you really think that all you have to do is be social and the Twitter bird is going to deliver a basket of ROI to save your butt and justify all that yappin' you're doin'?

Important Note: I constantly preach the importance of inspiration, engagement and conversation in social media. I believe 100% that social relationships are the key to achieving success in social media.  However, those of you who know me know that I also preach the importance of a plan, goals and objectives to achieve a positive return on investment (ROI).

You need more than a happy “yapper” to achieve ROI in social media.
Some newbies are getting lost in the conversation mumbo jumbo. They jump on the social networks, learn the tools, start reading blogs of thought leaders and they're off to the chat hall of fame.  They often believe that since their late night drunken bar tweet fests raise their Klout scores, it will eventually do the same to their financial bottom line.

Sorry folks, conversations alone with no plan and formal alignment to your business goals and objectives are going to leave you with a tired “yapper” and an empty wallet.

Social conversations should have a purpose.
I am not stating that social conversations should go away, nor should they be scripted. Conversations must be real, relevant and engaging.

Conversations should scream the essence of your brand.  Your understanding of and ability to inspire and connect with your audience should be the turbo, the awesome sauce in social conversations.  The better you understand your audience, the more relevant you will be. With no plan or structure you run the risk of conversations that provide little to no value to your audience or your business.  The conversations should be influenced by your goals and objectives but done so in an authentic way.

Social media is both art and science.
This is where the art of social media comes in to play. How can you have a real conversation, build real relationships, engage and see a positive ROI? Is it even possible to do all of the above? Absolutely! However, it will take work. You're must get in the head of your audience. Understand who they are, what they like to do, eat, play. Learn their lingo, engage with them on their turf. The more you know about your audience the better you can leverage social media and the power of social relationships to grow and sustain your business.

You must learn the tools.  However, the art of how you use the tools to engage is where you will derive the highest value. The tools are not the start or the end. They are simply a means, a medium to communicate, connect and derive efficiencies in regard to automation and time leverage.

If you think about it, it's really no different than the conversations offline. Similar to a networking event, you engage, talk openly, be real and hope to meet and connect with real people. Real people that you can help with your businesses or services.

If you're having a hard time understanding the art of social media and engagement, take the tools out. Focus on the people, the plan and how you will achieve your objectives.  Come back to the tools after you know your audience and have developed a plan to inspire and connect with them.

More action please!
If yer “yapper” is yappin' your audience should be clickin'! Inspire your audience to action at every turn. As Brian Solis states “the social currency of online marketing is action.” If your audience is not inspired to take action on your behalf then what is it all for? If a member of your audience follows you for 12 months, talks to you, laughs with you and help you raise your Klout score, that's great. However, if you don't have any fellow “yappers” that are taking action, or providing other business value, then chances are you are not seeing a positive ROI.  So am I right or am I wrong?

Action doesn't end at a Facebook Like or a Twitter follow. Your audience should never stop taking action. You should be constantly inspiring them, helping them with a goal of bringing them closer to you and your brand. Inspire them with Facebook posts that add value to their business and lives. Provide them with tweets of inspiration, knowledge and humor. Educate them with whitepapers, blog posts and email newsletters. Never stop giving your best stuff with a goal of inspiring them to connect with your brand. Inspire, connect, achieve!

Is Your Social Conversation Stream adding value?
Are your social conversations relevant to your audience? If they're not today, doubtful you'll have anyone listening to them next week.

Relevancy is a requirement to inspire and connect. Yappin' is good but only if it's inspiring others to yap about it!  Use the quick checklist below to see if it might be time to shut yer yapper for a bit and figure out how to deliver real value to your audience.

Too Much Yappin' Test:

1. What's your ROI? If you have to think longer than 2 seconds for this answer then my guess is you lack a plan. How about goals and objectives? If you don't have them, grab a marker and head to the nearest white board, pronto!

2. Who are you yappin' with and to? Who do you talk to in social media? Are you talking to people who will help you meet your business goals and objectives? Or are you guilty of tweetin' and Facebookin' with your BFF and book club? Unless you are talking to an audience that is interested and can be inspired to take action that will benefit you personally and professionally then you're probably yappin' up the wrong tweet tree!

3. What are you yappin' about? Is it relevant? Do a good look thru your tweet stream, Facebook wall, LinkedIn group discussions etc.  How hard do you have to dig to find content from you that provides value? Can you see it thru all the talk of lunch, dinner, and Saturday night out? If not, time to do a re-think of the conversations you are engaging in.

4. Does any of the relevant value come from you? Are you the root source of content that educates, inspires and connects? Do you have a blog? Are you doing anything that establishes you as a thought leader? Are you practicing what you preach or simply tweeting everyone else's blog all day while you yap about nothin'?

5. Is your audience engaged? How are they responding to your questions, posts and tweets? Do they answer the questions you ask on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter? Do they comment and click “like” on your Facebook posts?  Are you getting retweeted often and by who? If it's only your brother, sister, mom, BFF and kids then you better rethink your engagement strategy quick!

6. What is the tone of your fellow yappers? Is it inline with your brand? Is the tone positive? Serious? Light hearted? The tone is often driven by you even if you're not doing so on purpose. Pay close attention to the words people use and the tone they use to engage and communicate with you and your brand. If it's not what you want it to be, then figure out why it is such. Develop a plan to better guide the conversations to support your brand and business goals.

7. Is your sales funnel working? Do you have a sales funnel? Are you driving qualified leads, building your email list and nurturing relationships? Are you driving action between social platforms? Inspire your audience to connect with you on numerous platforms. With each touch you can draw them closer to you and deeper into your sales funnel.

8.  Are you guilty of Random Acts of Marketing (RAMs)? Is your social media integrated with your business? Or have you done nothing more than attempt to stick a band-aid on a broken business? Integration is the key to ROI. By integrating you can reap benefits across multiple mediums, platforms and audiences.

9.  Are you riding on the yapper lazy river while your competitors pass you by? Chances are if you are sitting on Twitter yappin' day and night with no real plan and ROI, your competitors are going to leave you in the lazy dust! Get to work and finish that sales funnel plan, execute the engagement plan that has been sitting on your desk. Kick-off that email nurturing program that has been on your list since you started your business!

10. Are you walkin' the walk or yappin' the yap? Are you posting tips for how to use Facebook, how to be a good nanny, football player or whatever your specialty may be, but you're not living by the same rules? Do you speak of engagement on Facebook yet your page looks like a desert? Quit telling others what to do and start helping yourself for a short while. I can guarantee you you'll be much further along 90 days from now doing such than if you keep yappin' for no reason.  Remember, if you aren't taking action in your business, neither will your audience.

So how did you do? Do you like your answers? Or could your audience use a little inspiration from you to take more action?

If you don't like your answers to the above questions do not:
1. Blame it on your “lame” audience
2. Give up!

You've come this far. Regardless of where you are in the adoption of social media and the integration into your business it is always good to take a step back and assess your progress. What could you do different to bring a the highest possible return?  Instead of focusing on how you can get more time to tweet and talk to your friends, find more time to create value.

Refocus on connecting. Connecting with a goal of nurturing powerful social relationships that are profitable both personally and professionally. Engage and create conversations that inspire your audience to connect with you and your brand!


Your Turn

What are your thoughts? Do you think we often get too hung up in the yappin'? Are you seeing your colleagues, partners, clients or competitors spend more time yappin' than they do providing value to their audiences? What do you do if you see a client doing such?